Rosalind Nashashibi creates works in film, sculpture, photography and printmaking. Her films, in particular, reveal the rhythms and patterns of everyday life and explore the boundaries between reality and fiction. Working in 16mm film, her early works focused on real situations, but did not reveal stories about her subjects, rather, she is fascinated by the rituals played out by social groups and the individual's place within the society.
Midwest (2002) is an example of this approach. Focusing on body language and gesture rather than words and conversation, it is an exploration of the passing of time. Made during an artist’s residency project in Omaha, Nebraska, it is a record of ordinary life in the racially segregated city; with areas so neglected they appear to be reverting to a rural landscape. Within this context the artist evokes the melancholic side of a community that seems to be both drifting along and waiting for something to happen.
In 2005, Nashashibi moved away from purely observational films. Delving deeper into the meeting of mythology, performance and anthropology, she began to film in the borders where reality and fiction meet. Carlo's Vision (2011) is based on an episode in Pasolini's unfinished novel Petrolio in which the protagonist has a vision in a busy shopping street in Rome. Nashashibi transports the vision from the 1970s to the present day, updating the voices to reflect the current political and social reality in Italy. Colliding real space with fictional space, viewers of the film are watching alongside the streets' passers-by.
Such ideas were further cemented in Nashashibi's 2012 commission from Scottish Ballet and Glasgow International festival, Lovely Young People (Beautiful Supple Bodies), in which she invited local residents in Glasgow to watch Scottish Ballet rehearsals. The film creates a tension between the dancers’ movement – the ritual and discipline involved in learning the routine – and the figures watching the performance. The camera records their gaze and their whispered thoughts about what they are seeing. In Nashashibi’s film, the watcher becomes the watched, highlighting the artist’s interest in the way the lens of the camera captures and transforms how we interact with our environment and with each other.